Bangladeshi Rape Victim Flogged To Death

Hena Begum, a 14-year-old old Bangladeshi girl, was publicly flogged recently in Shariatpur, 35 miles outside of the capital, Dhaka after being accused of having an affair with her 40-year-old old married cousin. According to the BBC, a village court made up of Islamic clerics and elders sentenced Begum to 100 lashes under Islamic Sharia law. The girl lost consciousness after 80 lashes and her family, who were also ordered to pay 50,000 taka (approximately $700), took her to the hospital where she died six days later.

“What sort of justice is this?” Begums father told the BBC.  “My daughter has been beaten to death in the name of justice. If it had been a proper court then my daughter would not have died.”

As for the “affair” accusation, Bangladesh’s Daily Star suggests that Begum was actually raped by the cousin.

Four people, including a Muslim cleric, have also been arrested in connection with Begum’s death and the police are looking for an additional 14 people who were involved. The country’s High Court has ordered officials in Shariatpur to explain why Begum was sentenced under Sharia law, since Sharia punishment was made illegal in October 2010. That’s when the High Court declared Bangladesh a secular state, making the issuing of fatwas illegal and a punishable offense.

Begum’s death is a testament to how, despite efforts by Bangladeshi women’s rights groups and civil society, the legal system in the country remains inaccessible for the majority of the population. It often fails to protect those who need it the most: women and children. Longtime Bangladeshi women’s rights activist and former Member of Parliament, Tasmima Hossain, explained the situation to me:

The legal system in our country has failed to reach the ordinary masses. Neither the Government nor the NGOs or any legal system is physically or financially accessible to 90 percent of the people. They cannot afford it. So the primitive Sharia law takes advantage of that in the name of salish, or arbitrary rulings like we have seen in the case of Hena Begum. The so-called mullahs and local village leaders take advantage of the situation in the name of religion.

The BBC reports that dozens of fatwas are issued under Sharia law each year by village clergy in Bangladesh, and this is the second death linked to Sharia punishment despite the practice being outlawed: In December, a 40-year-old woman died in the Rajshahi district after she was caned publicly for having an affair with her stepson.


  1. Bart Deceuninck says:

    To everyone: read the website of the Bangladesh newspaper Daily Star. You'll find 2 articles on Hena. It becomes even more shocking. Doctors and the police let her die. She could have lived despite the whipping

  2. This is an absolutely disgusting story. Somehow the "government" is trying to justify this murder in the name of religion?? We have lots of work to do people.

  3. This is truly devastating. My thoughts are with that poor family who had to see their baby beaten to death.
    What an abomination to have this still happening in the world!

  4. C'helle Egalité Griffin says:

    Bart, I found some articles, but not one saying that she could have survived the beating. Could you point me in the right direction? The only mention I found of doctors concerned the omission of her wounds from the post mortem report.

    This is horrible, truly sickening. My stomach is absolutely churning.

  5. The Star article does not say that the girl was allowed to die by doctors and police. The BBC article only says that they're not sure why she died, whether it was from the lashings or 'another reason'.

    So much work to be done in so many places.

    • C'helle Egalité Griffin says:

      Thank you. That's what I read, also. I wanted to be sure I wasn't missing anything.

      You are right. So much work. All over the world.

  6. Of wider concern is the persistence of the idea that rape victims are somehow to blame for being raped. That is truly frightening.

    • I agree. Why is it that men think women want it? Too many young girls are raped and get the blame. How can we as women allow this to continue. Maybe some of these men who sentenced this child need to be treated in the same manner. How would they feel haveing no control over what someone does to their body and then being blamed for it and beaten.
      It is a shame that in this day and time things like this are still allowed to happen. This makes me sad to live in a world where women are still treated in this manner.

  7. what about the 40 year cousin? What was his punishment for adultery?

    • butterflygypsy says:

      Forget adultery! What about rape of a minor?! She should have been taken to a rape crisis center or hospital and HE should have been arrested!! That poor little girl was raped twice, once by a family member and then by her own culture.

  8. Honor killings are a thing we sometimes hear about here in the West, and they are something that is often part of a stereotype that we form about people from other cultures. What is usually part of the stereotype that forms about these situations is that the family of the victim is usually in on it, if not factually fully complicit. If the family is not directly involved, then (stereotype goes) they at least agree with what happens to the victim. This girl’s story is also about a family’s powerlessness in the face of religious “law”. And it proves that these families in spite of culture, religion, geography, or poverty, are quite like families everywhere — and perhaps do not love their daughters less than we do ours, do not see their daughters as subhuman (even when accused).

  9. This incidence is terrible and shocking. Specially to hear that it is from B'Desh, which I consider the only true secular state, least influenced by Sharia, despite the Muslim dominated population. I am glad to hear that the perpetrators are being arrested. They should be charged for murder and severly punished to deter similar incidences in future.

  10. Shouldn't society pause at moments like this before the executioner drops the blade to think about the basics of the situation. Does a 14 year old have the capacity to walk into an affair on her own? Does the man have an equal punishment for the affair (it was after all his vow to his wife that was broken)? Do they pause to think about the magnitude of the punishment – Can a young girl survive 100 lashings?

    Where is the common sense? and…without that which law and government can keep up to protect girls or women?

  11. So what was his punishment?

  12. 14…just a child…..

  13. Appalling.
    The more I hear about humans, the more I like animals.
    A case in point is Singapore, who claims that caning is not torture.
    Yet how many of the Singaporean have volunteered to be caned, to prove it?

  14. jokr8790 says:

    There will be an American version of “Sharia” law if fundie Christians stay in power. Look at your future.

  15. disgusted by the so called sharia law. who doesn’t sin in this world?, so they can throw stones at sinners. RIP Begun there day shall come as well, don’t worry you are in a better place. no punishment can bring you back. let them wait for their death just like Gadafi

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